The eighth year of Pura Vida in Grand Teton National Park was another great success. There were a total of 21 students and 30 family members who participated in the middle and high school sessions that aim to introduce the local Latino community to their backyard national park.
Pura Vida engages participants in a variety of recreational experiences during week-long programs. Although most of them have lived in Jackson for many years, they have not spent much time in Grand Teton. Pura Vida helps introduce participants to the variety of activities and resources that are available to them in the park. From boating to wildlife tracking to challenge hikes, Grand Teton serves as an educational and experiential playground for these students during the program.
New this year, the high school group spent a day rock climbing with Exum Mountain Guides. This was a first for many, and the mental and physical challenge of climbing created both a rewarding and memorable experience for everyone. One student, Ani, sat at the top of the climb looking over the valley and said, “Why would anyone trash this place?” Providing these moments that give Pura Vida students new perspectives is exactly why this program is so important to both Grand Teton National Park and local community.
In addition to rock climbing, Pura Vida students went canoeing at String Lake, completed a service project at the Murie Center, camped out for one night, and hiked around Phelps Lake. Both the middle school and high school groups had the opportunity to meet Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela, who passionately shared his story about his experience as a Latino working for the National Park Service. This was a highlight for most participants and made them proud of their heritage.
Each Pura Vida session ends with a family night at the Gros Ventre Campground. This year students showed their families and friends how to use bear spray, what to pack for an overnight camping trip, how to start a fire, and much more.
Thanks to our partners—Grand Teton National Park and Teton Science Schools—for making 2017 another memorable year for Pura Vida students and their families.